Monthly Archives: January 2012

“I’m Just Kidding”

Have you ever heard of the “bless their heart” rule? It’s the idea that you can say anything about a person as long as you finish by saying, “bless their heart” (example: “She was just about the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen…Bless her heart”). Now this is obviously just a joke and I would hope that no one would ever use this rule. But what if I told you that there was a “rule” that many use every day to excuse something hurtful that they’ve said?

“I’m just kidding.”

I’ve used these three words many times in the past after having said something that may have been hurtful. In fact, most of the time I really was joking when I said it. Does that make it something we should say though?

In Proverbs 26:18-19 we read, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows and death, so is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘Was I not joking?’”

I realize that this passage is talking about deceit, but I think it has some serious application for us today. Too frequently we allow harsh or hurtful words to come out of our mouths and try to cover them up with a quick, “I’m just kidding.” It’s as if we believe those three words serve as a magical eraser that go back and take away any hurt that our comments may have inflicted. They can’t.

Humor can make for some great memories. If you know me, you know that I love to joke around and goof off. I do believe God gave us humor for a reason. I just don’t believe that reason was so that we might have an excuse for bad behavior. James 3 describes the tongue as a fire. We need to recognize it as a fire that can’t simply be put out by a quick, “I’m just kidding.”

Even when someone is a close friend, words can be hurtful. I know how easy it can be to get caught up in the moment when we’re joking around with friends and end up saying something mean (inappropriate talk can just as easily fall into this category). We must be very cautious with the words that we say. I’d like to encourage each of us to keep from using humor as an excuse for saying things we shouldn’t. Instead, today find someone you know you may have been hard on in the past and say something positive and encouraging to them. Just don’t follow it up with, “I’m just kidding.”


Never Alone

Aron Ralston sat at the bottom of a canyon with a boulder trapped against his arm. By this point, I’m sure you’ve heard his story (even if you only know him as the guy who cut his own arm off). Aron had been hiking in the canyons of Utah all alone when a rock gave out, causing him to fall into the bottom of that particular canyon. With his arm trapped underneath the rock, Aron called out for help, hoping that someone might hear him. Unfortunately, there was no one around to hear him. There was no one around to offer help. Aron found himself completely alone.

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt alone. I’m not talking about “in the bottom of a canyon with a rock on your arm” alone. But have you ever felt like you’ve had to go through something all alone? Maybe you felt like there was no one around to help or comfort you. You wouldn’t be the only one to feel this way. In fact, 1 Kings 19 describes a time in which Elijah felt that very way. Despite coming off of one of his greatest successes as a prophet (defeating the prophets of Baal on Mt. Caramel), Elijah felt like he was all alone. Elijah even said to God, “I have been very zealous for the Lord…And I alone am left” (1 Kings 19:14). Thankfully, God taught Elijah a lesson that we too can learn from: We are never alone.

We are never alone because God often sends us those who can help us and encourage us. At the end of chapter 19, we read that God sent Elisha to be with Elijah and minister to him. God recognized that Elijah needed someone to support him and so Elisha was sent to him. Frequently, God will do the same thing for us. Maybe it’s our spouse, a close friend or some other family member. Often there will be those we can lean on for support and encouragement. We just need to be able to recognize when God has blessed us with those individuals. Too often people feel like they are alone when there are others around them trying to lend a hand. We have to be able to look around and find our Elisha.

We are never alone because there are others fighting the same fight. Elijah believed himself to be the only one who had remained faithful to God. However, in verse 18 we learn that there were 7,000 others who were still faithful to God and striving to please Him. Elijah was simply so focused on his own situation that he failed to recognize the others who were still fighting the fight that he was fighting. The same goes for us. Even in our darkest hour, we must remember that there are others who have fought and overcome the same challenges. There will always be others who are striving to please God, even if they are across the world. That should serve as an encouragement to us.

We are never alone because God is always with us. Even if we never had an “Elisha” to support us and even if we were the only person left striving to serve God, we would still not be alone. God is still with us. As Elijah sat in the cave on Mt Horeb, he complained to God about being alone. It’s ironic because if Elijah really were alone, he would not have had a God to complain to. The fact is, God was there with Elijah and he is always with us to. As long as we continue to serve God and seek after Him, He will never leave our side.

You may never find yourself trapped at the bottom of a canyon with no one to hear you call out. However, there’s a good chance that a time could come in your life where you feel like you are trying to make it all on your own. Just remember that we are never alone. No matter how hard things may become, God will always be there for us and will often provide us with others to encourage us in our walk. Let’s never forget about the presence of God in our lives. We are never alone.


Enough About Tebow…

Tired of hearing people talk about Tim Tebow? You wouldn’t be alone. Even Charles Barkley this week said that he was tired of hearing about the guy. I suppose I can understand why they feel that way. Tebow’s name is all over the news, radio and Facebook. Now when it comes to Tebow talk, I’ve got no room to speak. I have to admit that he’s been the focus of 75% of my conversations over the past week (I even spent most of a day sharing Tebow facts on a persons Facebook wall because they were tired of hearing about him…). People are excited and for that reason, it seems like everyone has something to say about Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.

Today, as I was messaging someone back and forth on Twitter about Tebow a thought crossed my mind: Why is it that I have no problem talking to someone about the Denver Broncos and their underdog story but I often have such a difficult time talking to others about my faith in Jesus Christ? I could jump into a conversation with a stranger in order to defend my love for Tim Tebow but could I do the same about my love for God? It was a tough realization for me to come to.

For you, it might not be Tim Tebow. However, I guarantee that everyone has something in their life they have no problem striking up a conversation about. Maybe it’s a musical group, a different sports franchise, some movie or your favorite celebrity. Everyone has something they are passionate about. Something they love to talk to others about. Shouldn’t that be how we are with God’s word?

In Acts 4, Peter and John found themselves before a group of men who wanted them to get quiet about Jesus real quick. You think Charles Barkley is ready for people to stop talking about Tebow? These men were literally commanding and threatening Peter and John to stop teaching people about Jesus. Now, I like talking about the Broncos but if someone threatened my life, I’d likely stop (though I’d have to be pretty sure the threat was a real one). Peter and John would not be silent though. In verse 19 they said to the other men, “we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Regardless of the threats and despite the commands, Peter and John could not stop speaking about Jesus. They were too passionate and too convinced of the truth!

So why is it that we often have a hard time speaking up about Jesus? Is it a lack of passion for His word? Is it because we’re not truly convinced that He is the truth? Or is it because we are just more interested in worldly things than we are about spiritual? I’m not saying that it’s wrong to talk about Tebow (though my friends that are Raiders fans would say it is). I’m not saying we can’t have hobbies and interests that we like to talk about. When those things become all we talk about though, we may have a problem. Trust me, this is a lesson I need to learn just as much as anyone. I hope it is something you will take some time to think about too.


Spiritual Plateau

As it is every year, this week seems to be filled with individuals who are setting new goals and resolutions for 2012. Some are hoping to exercise more this year. Others want to spend more time with family and less time at work. There are even those who are working on bad habits in their life. It seems like everyone has something in their life that they want to improve this year. As Christians, hopefully our goals are not all focused on earthly things but turn to spiritual things as well. This time of the year tends to be when many Christians who haven’t been living their life right turn back to God and make a promise to be better. Whether it’s trying to spend time in His Word, trying to pray more frequently, or just focusing more on spiritual things, many Christians are using this time to correct their life in order that it might be pleasing to God.

What if your spiritual life in 2011 wasn’t something you struggled with though? As my brother Kyle put it in a devotional this past week, what if you are finding that your relationship with God is stronger now than it has ever been? What if you feel like you are living a life that is pleasing to God and you take pride in the way you lived in 2011? I hope that is the case for everyone who reads this! However, for those who are finding themselves on a spiritual high, now is the time to push forward even more. Too often I believe we see our faith as a mountain that we’re trying to get to the top of. Many feel like they are on the very bottom, struggling to climb. On the other hand, there are many who feel like they have reached the pinnacle of their faith. They feel as if they have come to the place in their faith in which they are content with where they are. Our faith shouldn’t be viewed that way. Our faith should be something that continues to grow. We should never get to a point in this life in which we feel like our faith plateaus.

The Thessalonian church was having a similar problem. It’s not that they were living wickedly. Paul even applauded the way they had been living. However, in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 Paul urged them to “excel still more.” Paul wasn’t unhappy with the way they had been behaving. He simply wanted to see them push forward. He wanted to see them continue to grow in their faith. They were already pleasing to God, but they needed to constantly be looking for ways to grow spiritually. Even the strongest and most faithful of Christians can “excel still more.”

This year, my friend Travis White has set up a group on Facebook called, “Excel Still More: The Facebook Challenge.” The focus of the group will be to push individuals who are already living faithful lives to strive for a deeper faith and greater relationship with God. Throughout the year, the group will be given 20 different tasks that can be done to help us grow more in our faith. I would like to encourage all my readers to join the group and look for ways this year to “excel still more” in their faith. The group can be found at http://www.facebook.com/groups/325371750809571/.

No matter where you are in your spiritual life, God is always willing to accept those who fully turn to Him. Let’s all decide together that we are going to look for ways every day to grow in our faith and never allow our spirituality to plateau.